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Farming is Dangerous Business

Just last weekend the local news and the Star Tribune reported on a terribly tragic accident on a farm just west of the Twin Cities. A man and his five-year-old grandson were riding on grandpa's tractor when it tipped over, killing them both. The most recent statistical evidence I have seen rates farming as the second most dangerous occupation in America, second only to underground coal mining!

The reason farming is so dangerous is because farming equipment is so dangerous. I don't know the specific facts of this accident, but it seems likely that the tractor in question was one of the older, three wheeled versions, similar to those three wheeled ATVs that were banned years ago, only worse. Think about it. You have vehicle with a triangular wheelbase and an extremely high center of gravity. It has to be built that way so that it can pass over growing crops without crushing them. The problem is that it makes the vehicle itself incredibly unstable. That is why modern tractor manufacturers have abandoned the old three wheeled design in favor of a four wheeled design, and also incorporate rollover protection systems (ROPS) on tractors so that if it does rollover it doesn't crush the occupants.

If in fact the tractor design is partly to blame for this terrible tragedy, the tractor manufacturer may be liable under product liability laws in Minnesota which make them liable for injuries caused by a consumer product which reaches the consumer in an unreasonably dangerous condition, due to its design or a manufacturing defect.

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